Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Sea is Deep and the World is Wide.

I feel extremely lucky to live the life I have lived so far.  As a child I travelled with my parents as we followed my Father's job around the world.  I was supposed to be born in Nigeria, but the gynaecologist fell ill and my Mother caught the next flight out of there at 8+ months pregnant.  I was flown back at 3 weeks old.  From Nigeria we moved to Turks and Caicos, and then on to Thailand.  When I was 7, we returned to the UK for several years and, when my parents moved onto Malawi when I was 10, I was installed in boarding school in West Sussex.  I still got to go out to wherever my parents were in the holidays and, after 6 months in Malawi, they moved on to Barbados and then Thailand, finally returning to the UK when I was in my final year at university.

It's hard to say how this travelling affected me.  Initially I was adamant that I would never leave the UK again, except to go on holiday.  I wanted to stop somewhere and put down proper roots.  It's certainly affected my siblings in different ways.  My older sister is very happy to stay put in one place now, roots dug deep.  My older brother enjoys travel, but has said that he is happy to live where he is now, surrounded by his friends.  My younger brother is entirely different, and has already taken himself off once to live in Bangkok with his girlfriend (now his wife), and I think is planning more adventures.  I am probably somewhere in the middle.  Had I not married The Husband, with his job that takes us off around the world, perhaps I would have been comfortable to stay in the UK for ever.  However, within a year of being married, we were off on our first posting to Milan in Italy.  We stayed there for 2 years before moving on to Mumbai, India, for 3 years.  Whilst we were in these places, we did our best to explore the country we lived in, as well as those made more accessible by their closeness.  Had we not been living in Mumbai and my father in Kathmandu, it's highly unlikely I would ever have got round to visiting Nepal, especially not with a 10 month old in tow.

My tiny snails setting sail on a ferry in Sydney!
At the end of our Indian posting, we went back to the UK and I was content to be home, playing house in our new cottage, making friends, putting down roots.  It was quite a while before I began to miss the travel, but then various postings began to be dangled in front of us.  For various reasons, each came to nothing, but they increased a general feeling of itchy feet for the pair of us.  Eventually, after 3 years in deepest, darkest, rural Berkshire, a posting came through and we moved to Australia and here we have set up camp for the next few years.

The move was emotionally harder than I had anticipated - I miss my friends and family in the UK, and I miss being close enough to be able to help them when they are going through difficult times.  However, we have just come back from our first holiday here and I have so much enjoyed being able to explore a new place.  We drove to Sydney from Brisbane, stopping at Port Macquarie on the way down and Coff's Habour on the way back up.  I have been able, freed from the tyranny of the school run for a week, to appreciate the opportunity that we have here, and that I have been lucky enough to have had all my life, to explore more of the world than many people get the chance to.  As the tiny snail said in the Snail and The Whale, "The sea is deep and the world is wide" and we are going to take our chance to sail it whilst we can.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Settling in...

We've been here for almost 3 months now, so I thought I'd do an update as to how we are settling in.

Our stuff arrived from the UK without any problems and it has been lovely to have the house kitted out with our own furniture.  I love the house, although after a solid Victorian Cottage with walls a foot thick, it does seem rather flimsy!  The noise carries and there is no way of getting a lie in when all the main rooms are on the same floor.  My favourite space has got to be downstairs in the enormous playroom - the kids can make as much mess as they like and it doesn't bother me at all because at the end of the day, I just migrate back upstairs to my lovely sitting room (that said, I've just walked downstairs to find ALL the puzzles out of their boxes and am not feeling quite so zen about it right now).
Australia Zoo.

The kids have settled really well into their new school, and The Feral One has been offered a Kindy place there from January.  They seem to be generally happy and making friends.  The Feral One and The Naughty Baby are still at home with me 24/7 and seem to be coping with that (they are so easy going those two!).  We go along to the gym 3 times a week and they seem to enjoy the creche there too - even if they do keep bringing back D&V bugs.

As postings go, it's a pretty cushy one and I certainly can't complain of any hardship here.  The cost of living is high, but we're on an expat package which takes that into account.  I can get most things here that I need and it's an easy place to live.  The worst bit about being here is that we are so very far away from our friends and family and I've been going through a stage of missing everyone quite badly.  I'm also missing my animals.  Sometimes it seems like the fun bits of my life - the horses and the dogs - have been sliced out and have been replaced by boring stuff instead - cleaning, gym and an extra long school run.  I'm told that I ought to regard the gym as "me" time (because I am child free), but I'd much rather be walking my dogs through the woods or across the common than trudging on a treadmill. Anyway.

We've been planning our sightseeing for the next few years.  We have a trip to Sydney booked in September and flights to NZ (North Island) booked in January.  We'd also like to go skiing in NZ at some point, go to Vanuatu/Fiji, see the Red Interior, drive the Great Ocean Drive and take a trip to Tazzy.  All whilst also exploring the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

I do keep meaning to blog a bit more regularly, but at the moment we're just in the settling in stage and not really doing much that is very exciting!  The Boy turned 5 in August and we took a trip to Sea World which was great fun.  The Eldest has learnt to ride her bike without stabilisers (I thought we were never going to get there!) and also turned 7 in August (celebrated with a trip to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo).  I'm looking forward to seeing more of Australia in September!